Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 150:597 (Jan 93) p. 110
Made in America. By Michael Scott Horton. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. 198 pp. $13.95.
Rarely do I commend a volume as mandatory reading for all faculty, students, and graduates, but this one checks in with that kind of priority. According to the author, “It is the purpose of this book…to examine the relationship between the biblical teachings and the contemporary reality shaping who we are as American evangelicals” (p. 13). Writing in the tradition of C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, and quoting all the right people (Marty, Barna, Cox, Lewis, Bloom, Bellah, Lasch, and others), Horton nearly achieves his goal.
Some readers will remember Horton as the editor of The Agony of Deceit, a book that lays bare the hypocrisy and theological shallowness of televangelism. In this current volume Horton searches for the reasons that America has lost or abandoned its primary faith, notably that found in the Puritan vision and lifestyle. Repeatedly he bemoans the loss of theology as the queen of the sciences and the centerpiece of Christian life. “As the Puritans began to lose their central focus—the gospel of grace—and allowed their reformist impulse to create a salvation by personal and social improvement, Christianity became the social glue: urbane, civil, and less concerned with theology” (p. 20).
As one might expect, Horton attacks Arminianism throughout and pins a good bit of the blame for present evangelical woes on “the technique-centered variety of industrialized religion…illustrated by Charles Finney” (p. 44), and advanced to repulsive marketing dimensions by D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday.
Somehow Horton remains reasonably irenic, though certain cryptic remarks creep in at various points. Quotable and poignant one-liners are sprinkled throughout the text. These are samples: “To attack the world for being worldly is not only poor manners, but also a profound waste of time” (p. 34). “Technique-centered evangelism is wrong because of the way it treats God like an absentee landlord” (p. 56). “In consumer religion, Christianity becomes trivialized. Its great mysteries become cheap slogans. Its majestic hymns are traded in for shallow jingles, often sung off the image from an overhead projector, much like an advertising executive uses to sell a client on an ad campaign. And its parishioners, now unashamedly called audiences, have come to
BSac 150:597 (Jan 93) p. 111
expect dazzling testimonies, happy anecdotes, and fail-proof schemes for successful living that will satiate spiritual consumption” (p. 70).
Horton attacks crass marketing schemes for the gospel and the church, methodological excesses of the...
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